Xavi & Ozil on Fifa FIFPro World XI midfielders shortlist

The Barcelona and Arsenal stars have made the cut despite an inconsistent last 12 months for club and country

 Xavi and Mesut Ozil are the surprise inclusions on a Real Madrid and Juventus dominated 15-man midfield shortlist for the Fifa FIFPro World XI.

The pair have endured an inconsistent last 12 months for club and country but still received plenty of nominations from their fellow professionals.

Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Paul Poga represent the Juventus contingent, while Toni Kroos, James Rodriguez and Luka Modric are the Madrid players on the list.

Bayern Munich (Xabi Alonso, Bastian Schweinsteiger), Barcelona (Xavi, Andres Iniesta) and Chelsea (Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard) all have two representatives, while Manchester United (Angel Di Maria), Manchester City (Yaya Toure) and Arsenal (Ozil) all have one candidate.

The Fifa FIFPro World XI is decided by the players and involves votes from tens of thousands footballers worldwide.

Xavi, Iniesta and Franck Ribery were last year’s World XI midfielders.

Pirlo is the only midfielder to appear on all 10 shortlists since the introduction of the World XI in 2005. He joins goalkeeper and Juventus team-mate Gianluigi Buffon as the second player with 10 nominations.


Xabi Alonso (Spain, Bayern Munich) Angel Di Maria (Argentina, Manchester United) Cesc Fabregas (Spain, Chelsea) Eden Hazard (Belgium, Chelsea) Xavi Hernandez (Spain, Barcelona) Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona) Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid) Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid) Mesut Ozil (Germany, Arsenal) Andrea Pirlo (Italy, Juventus) Paul Pogba (France, Juventus) James Rodriguez (Colombia, Real Madrid) Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany, Bayern Munich) Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast, Manchester City) Arturo Vidal (Chile, Juventus)

Manchester United-Hull City Preview: Tigers must deal with in-form Rooney

The centre forward has been in fine form for both the Red Devils and England, while Steve Bruce’s men have a poor record against the 20-times top-flight champions

Hull City must find a way to keep quiet in-form Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney on Saturday if they are to end their dismal run of form.

The Tigers travel to Old Trafford on the back of three consecutive defeats and just one win in their last 11 Premier League matches – a run which has seen them slip to just one place and a point above the relegation zone.

United have won nine games in a row against Hull and will be confident of stretching that run to 10 after they beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium last time out to put them fourth in the table.

Rooney was on target in that 2-1 win against Arsene Wenger’s side, having scored three goals in two games for England against Slovenia and Scotland during the international break.

The former Everton striker scored a sublime volley in a 3-2 victory over Hull at the KC Stadium last season as United fought back from two goals down to win. Rooney also helped himself to all four goals in a 4-0 thrashing of Hull at Old Trafford four years ago and ex-United academy defender Alex Bruce is well aware that his side need to keep a close eye on the 29-year-old.

The Hull centre-back told United Review: “Wayne is always a threat, isn’t he? He’s a great player. I watched the Manchester derby and he nearly scored a great goal with a turn when he ran through, only to be knocked off the ball at the end.

“It shows the quality he has and he’s always capable of scoring a great goal at any given moment, like he did at the KC Stadium last season when he produced a little bit of magic with a 25-yard volley from nowhere that got them back into the game. It’s one thing we have to keep on top of.”

But Bruce, who could be back in contention on Saturday following a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, knows that it is not only Rooney who is capable of inflicting more misery on Hull.

He added: “Louis van Gaal has brought in some quality players like Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao.

“There are threats all over the pitch and I think Marouane Fellaini has done well in the past few weeks. He’s been playing well and I think he has been one of United’s best players in recent weeks. He’s a threat as well as a big physical presence.”

United left-back Luke Shaw is set to miss out after sustaining an ankle injury at Arsenal but striker Falcao returned to training this week after recovering from a calf injury.

Van Gaal could also welcome back Jonny Evans (ankle) after he got through 64 minutes of a reserve game but Daley Blind (knee), Marcos Rojo (shoulder), Phil Jones (shin) are all out and whether or not Rafael (muscle problem) will be available to return is an open question.

Hull will be without Gaston Ramirez after he was sent off on his first start for the club in Sunday’s 2-1 home defeat by Tottenham but Mohamed Diame could return after it was revealed that his knee injury is not serious.

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Rooney has 'no regrets' over Manchester United move

The striker came through the ranks at Everton but handed in a transfer request to force through a record-breaking switch to Old Trafford, but admits it was hard leaving Merseyside

Wayne Rooney insists he has “no regrets” over his move to Manchester United in 2004, despite leaving boyhood club Everton.

The striker rose to prominence at Goodison Park after coming through the youth academy and became the club’s then youngest ever scorer, before handing in a transfer request to force through an exit.

United paid €35 million for Rooney, making him the most expensive British teenager at the time, and while Rooney admits leaving Merseyside so young was hard he is convinced it was the right move for his career.

“It was a tough move for me to go from the Liverpool area to Manchester,” Rooney told Manchester Evening News. “I was a Scouse lad through and through and it was a difficult call for me to make.

“But I felt in terms of my football career it was the best thing for me to do and join United. A massive club and arguably the best manager of all time was there.

“I felt it was the right move for me to make and I knew they were in transition at the time.

“Cristiano Ronaldo was there, Darren Fletcher had just come through and they had some good young players. I felt it was right for me and, thankfully, it was the right move for me. I have had no regrets.”

Rooney scored his 46th goal for England on his 100th cap earlier in November, bringing him within four of the country’s all-time senior record, and the striker puts his return down to confidence on the pitch.

He added: “I’ve always been a player who has self-confidence and belief. If you have that attitude going into the game it does help you.

“When you’re younger it’s more off the cuff in terms of finishing, but when you get older you’re practising more, learning how to finish and as the years have gone on my finishing has got better.”

Chelsea 'head and shoulders' above title rivals – Giggs

With Jose Mourinho’s side unbeaten after 12 games this season, the Welshman has urged Manchester United and others to keep improving in a league where anyone can beat anyone else

Ryan Giggs has paid tribute to Premier League leaders Chelsea, describing them as “head and shoulders” above the rest of the division.

Now assistant to Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford, Giggs won 13 titles at Manchester United, and watched Chelsea win in 2005 and 2006 under Jose Mourinho and again in 2010 with Carlo Ancelotti at the helm.

With Mourinho now back at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have made a flying start to the 2014-15 season, unbeaten in their 12 matches with a six-point lead at the summit.

“I think everyone will agree that Chelsea are head and shoulders above anyone else at the moment but it’s a process and you just have to try to keep improving and see where that takes you,” he told Sky Sports.

“It’s never easy winning the league or never easy beating teams in the Premier League, we’ve seen that this season it’s getting more like the Championship has been year after year.

“It’s a case where anyone can beat anyone so you have to be at your best every week and hopefully we will be.

“We’ll keep improving, get players back on the pitch and, like I say, there’s enough talent in that dressing room to take us up the league and try to finish as high as we can.”

Giggs: I'd leave Manchester United to manage

The Welshman, who is currently serving as Louis van Gaal’s assistant at Old Trafford, is refusing to rule out the possibility of going elsewhere to earn his coaching stripes

Ryan Giggs says he is open to the possibility of leaving Manchester United in order to further his coaching career.

The Welshman has become synonymous with United since making his debut in 1991, and is the club’s record appearance maker with 963.

Following the departure of David Moyes towards the end of last season, Giggs even took over the management reigns in a caretaker role for four matches, winning two with one defeat and one draw.

The 40-year-old retired from playing at the conclusion of that campaign, and is now assistant coach to Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford.

Many believe Giggs is being groomed as Van Gaal’s successor to the post, but the man himself is unwilling to rule out the possibility of cutting his managerial teeth elsewhere.

“I’ve been at the club for so long that I’m familiar with the club but if I want to further my coaching career or managing career and if it’s not at Manchester United then so be it - but I’ll just have to wait and see,” Giggs told Sky Sports.

Focusing on the present, Giggs insists that despite his brief experience in the managerial hotseat at the end of last season, he has no designs on Van Gaal’s position in the foreseeable future. 

“I’m learning all the time,” he told talkSPORT. “The more I learn the better prepared I am for whatever I do, wherever that may be.

“Taking over at Manchester United is not something I’m thinking of though. I loved the experience last season, it was the best ever.

“You can do all the coaching badges and leadership stuff but actually being there for three weeks was invaluable. I’m serving my apprenticeship again.”